At the Washington Capitals‘ exit interviews on Friday, center Nicklas Backstrom said that he has not begun to think about his future with the team but would “love” to sign a contract extension this summer. He told reporters that the Capitals are the only team that he has ever known. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2020, and July 1 of this year is the first day that he is eligible to sign a contract extension.
Nicklas Backstrom also said he’d love to sign extension this summer with Capitals. Said it’s the only team he’s ever known and wants to stay. He also can become UFA after next season
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 26, 2019
Backstrom was unsure of whether he will represent Sweden at the World Championships when asked about it. He said that he is a little banged up and wants to get his medical evaluation done before making a decision on that.
He said the Capitals “didn’t click as good as last year” and should “never get satisfied,” despite winning the Stanley Cup last year. “You have to keep driving and that’s an area where we need to improve on.,” he said.
Backstrom described the First-Round exit as “an empty feeling” and expected the Capitals to go further than they did but knows that “we’re going to come back stronger and more prepared.”
After a short summer last year, he felt that everyone was hurt. Backstrom did not play through an injury throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On if there’s a different confidence within the group after winning last year, he responded: “Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of like, ‘what do you need? You don’t know the answer really.’ [You’re] just guessing and going on your instinct but now, I feel like we’ve went through it and it is possible. Especially when you don’t expect the team to do it. That’s the funny thing in sports and it gives guys in here confidence.”
Despite the early exit, Backstrom did not think that a lot of personnel changes are needed over the summer, saying “I feel like we have a great group of guys and a system that everyone believes in when we play good but it’s not a question for me. The organization’s gonna handle it.”
As an alternate captain and one of the Capitals top leaders, he thought that the Capitals were prepared for every team’s best effort in all 82 games and that the coaches were well-prepared. Backstrom shut down the fact that a repeat was on the players’ minds throughout the year, saying that they were too busy preparing for their next game.
While the Capitals swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the regular season, Backstrom said that “[The Stanley Cup Playoffs are] a totally different season. Anything can happen. Your only goal should be getting in the playoffs and the No. 1 seed can lose to the No. 8 seed easily. It shows how good this league is and how tight everyone is.,” taking note of some of the other top teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames getting eliminated in Round 1.
He said that the Capitals knew that they had a golden opportunity once the Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs that they did not capitalize on. Backstrom stated, “Yeah, absolutely. I think that everyone felt that when Tampa lost. They were obviously the favorites this year and they were playing some good hockey but anything could happen. That’s what’s so great about sports.”
Backstrom felt that head coach Todd Reirden did a “great job” in his first year with the head job, saying that he is a smart guy and someone who wants to learn and get better like everyone else. “As a first-year head coach, I feel like he’s been very impressive.”
With defenseman and alternate captain Brooks Orpik pondering retirement and set to hit unrestricted free agency, Backstrom said that he hopes he returns. “[He has] meant a lot for everyone. He’s a little dad in there.”
By Harrison Brown